Privilege Praxis

December 8, 2008

Beer Pong, Objectivication, and Agnes Scott

Check out the article one of my friends, a senior at Agnes Scott College, wrote about the recent film shot on campus: “Road Trip 2: Beer Pong.”

Basically, Agnes Scott is a small women’s college in the South that prides itself on being the world for women. However, from time to time movies are filmed on campus, and this one was clearly quite terrible. The straw that broke the camel’s back, however, was when a student from Agnes Scott was paid to recruit other students during dinner to participate in a scene about a “LUG club”–lesbians until graduation. Students were told that they didn’t have to kiss, they just had to be comfortable around lesbians. Ick.

Other terrible stuff happened, too–Louisa writes that

FURTHERMORE, the movie’s Craigslist ad states “primarily seeking White” and “Attractive Female Model Type” extras, valued at $7.17/hr (be sure to send in your weight!). These racist and sexist standards are clearly visible on the movie’s promotional flyer. The flyer shows a headless white woman’s body, focusing on her large breasts, barely covered by a shirt that says “Nice Rack.” Her pelvis is in front of a triangle of shot glasses. The tagline? “Get your balls wet.”

Check it out. Ick.

Eta: One of the Bitch Magazine blogs has a write up about it.

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December 4, 2008

ridiculousness of the day: english-only elections in tennessee

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — quiteneil @ 2:22 pm

via The Tennessean

Metro Nashville’s English-only special election is on, for now.

Davidson County Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman ruled Wednesday that her court did not have the authority to grant a request to halt the Jan. 22 election.

“The court takes no pleasure in dismissing the lawsuit filed by Ms. Quinteros but does so … because the issue is not ripe,” she said.

In essence, Bonnyman ruled that plaintiff Rosa Quinteros — a Honduran immigrant who has been living in Davidson County since 1998 after being granted temporary asylum by the U.S. government — must wait until the measure is put to voters and becomes law before she can challenge its constitutionality. She is suing Metro government and the Davidson County Elections Commission to stop the election.

Quinteros declined to comment on the advice of her lawyers, David Randolph Smith and Sean Lewis.

Smith said he would file an appeal as soon as possible with the Tennessee Supreme Court or the Tennessee Court of Appeals. Either court could rule in favor of Quinteros and could halt the election.
Voting begins Jan. 2

Metro Councilman Eric Crafton, the driving force behind efforts to limit most government business to the English language since 2006, said he doesn’t understand how Quinteros’ rights have been violated.

“What I don’t understand is why someone granted temporary asylum … felt that that gave her the right to suppress the right of voters to be heard,” he said.

Bonnyman did not rule on whether the English-only measure is constitutional. She said that a 2004 case decided by the Tennessee Supreme Court indicated that such a determination cannot be made before an election unless there are questions about the process or procedures used leading up to an election.

Ballots will be mailed to military personnel and other Davidson County voters living abroad on Dec. 8. Early voting is set to begin Jan. 2.

On Tuesday, a naturalized citizen from Myanmar joined the lawsuit, claiming that he has concerns about how an English-only rule would affect his ability to assist Southeast Asian refugees in Nashville. Win Myint’s legal filing said he has noticed more divisiveness locally since English-only has become an issue.

I really want to write more about the oppressive privileged nature of the English language, both in the academy and in every day life.

November 7, 2008

Privilege and Response to Barack Obama.

One of my best friends from high school couldn’t have more divergent political views than my own.  He posted a dramatic note on Facebook about how Barack Obama would tax the upper middle class to death and that was nothing less than a “Marxist created theory of the redistribution of wealth.”

I didn’t reply, because there is no way I could change his mind, but I couldn’t put my finger on why I was upset until I did my laundry last night.  I realized I was upset because economic policy, while part of the reason I didn’t vote for John McCain, was not my main decision.  Here are some of the more salient reasons I didn’t vote for him.

  1. John McCain, on his campaign website, states that he “believes Roe v. Wade is a flawed decision that must be overturned, and as president he will nominate judges who understand that courts should not be in the business of legislating from the bench.”  Clearly, he doesn’t care about women’s bodies, or their right to make decisions.  I must also say that I hate this idea of “activist judges,” because it implies that first, an activist is a bad thing incongruent with being a member of the judicial system, and second, because it implies that conservative judges aren’t “legislating from the bench.”
  2. John McCain also states he “believes the institution of marriage is a union between one man and one woman. It is only this definition that sufficiently recognizes the vital and unique role played by mothers and fathers in the raising of children, and the role of the family in shaping, stabilizing, and strengthening communities and our nation.”  Thanks for upholding a heterosexist, sexist, and generally not accurate view of what a family is.
  3. If John McCain had been elected, it would continue this paradigm of a white, rich man being the president of the United States.

I could go on and on.  You know the facts; you know what each candidate stood for.

I just think it’s privileged to focus on how each candidate will affect your tax return.  If you don’t have to worry about conservative activist judges making decisions about your body, if you don’t have fight tooth and nail to enjoy the privilege of being married, if someone who shares your identity has NEVER been president, then you have the privilege to focus on taxes.

August 8, 2008

Alejo’s intro

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — alejo @ 6:22 pm

I’m Alejo, Neil’s co-blogger here at Privilege Praxis.

I’m a mostly middle-class college student at a major state university in the South. I studied graphic design before I dropped that in favor of critical theory, in the guise of a dual English and Women’s Studies degree, thus buying myself a ticket to the thrilling and decadent lifestyle of the activist-academic. My father is Costa Rican, my mother is a Southerner of mostly Scottish decent, and I’m a fairly light-skinned person with a hyphenated surname. I’m a short, queer transguy who’s generally able-bodied. My three favorite people I’ve never actually met are Foucault, Morrissey, and Bea Arthur.

Hello, world.

July 29, 2008

Tutoring “Examples” in Writing Center Tutor Training Texts, Take Two

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — quiteneil @ 8:46 pm

“As you read these responses, think about the experiences that you bring to tutoring writing. From Jessi:

 

I remember when I was in fourth grade, I was singled out (I hate when teachers do that) to help a slow kid named Peter with his reading. We sat down during “quiet time” and I helped him go over the lesson we had learned earlier that day. Each day when we were alone, the teacher would give me a sticker, I assume as an award, that I had to wear on the front of my Catholic school uniform. She never gave Peter a sticker.

Today I am still undecided as to why I chose to help Peter. Was it because I had always been good at matters pertaining to English? Did the teacher think that Peter would benefit more from my help as a peer? Or was she just lazy and preferred to have “quiet time” to herself? I guess I don’t expect a sticker at the end of each of my tutoring sessions these days. I do expect tutoring to be a fulfilling experience for both myself and my students/classmates…”

The Allyn and Bacon Guide to Peer Tutoring, Gillespie and Learner, Allyn and Bacon, 2000 (emphasis mine).

Blech.

As we saw last time with Darren and Yaroslav, privilege plays a key role within the texts used to train writing center tutors. In the St. Martin’s guide, they primarily rely on fictional representations of the tutoring session; Allyn and Bacon gets in the “tutor voice” by beginning their text with narratives from tutors reflecting on what brought them to tutoring. The above passage is the first narrative. Here’s a few things that are problematic about it:

1) As the first tutor narrative in a book whose audience is meant to be tutors and people in courses preparing to become tutors, it uses perjorative, ableist language to describe a tutor’s relationship with a situation that brought Jessi to the writing center.

2) It sets up that tutors will be rewarded for their ability to help someone who is not fitting an academic mold or standard, not a relationship between two people who want to examine ideas/context(s)/text.

3) Is Jessi a peer to Peter? Given that she was “singled out” (specially chosen) and given “a sticker” (rewarded) that Peter didn’t get, I don’t think that a peer relationship is what Jessi nor her teacher had in mind. I think it’s interesting too that she refers to her current tutees as students/classmates–especially when later Allyn and Bacon goes into such detail about why tutors are not teachers.

What I’ve learned so far from reading these guidebooks (we’re not required to read them to tutor at Agnes, but they’re around) is that their kind of peer tutoring isn’t actually peer tutoring. It’s semi-peer-tutoring. It’s about going to see a para-para-professor to clarify your ideas and get your paper in shape for academia. It is about instituing privilege into a tutor so that they have the upper hand in a tutoring situation. Consequently, tutoring guides don’t tell you how to deal with issues that tutors might have with their own race/class/queer/gender/ability stuff. It assumes that all tutors don’t have to worry about it and only tells you (sometimes) how to deal with someone else who has race/class/queer/gender/ability stuff.

 

 

 

 

April 27, 2008

Yet another blog.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — quiteneil @ 10:25 pm

Hello.  In light of BFP ending her blog, and the scandal surrounding Seal Press/appropriation of ideas, (all of which is thoroughly documented in Questioning Transphobia’s post here), as well as some discussion of white privilege in the queer community gone awry in, of all places, ravelry.com, I think that it’s time for some blogging specifically about privilege.

I am a white able-bodied middle class transguy who goes to a women’s college in the South.  I have a lot of privilege on my own, and our school has a whole realm of racism, classism, heterosexism, plain old sexism, body stuff, and other things going on behind a privileged facade of semi-liberalism.

There’s a lot to deconstruct, but that’s okay.  We’ll take it one blog post at a time.

If anyone is interested in writing with me, let me know.

ETA semantics:  Praxis is a word thrown around a lot in writing center theory/literature (I am a tutor who dabbles in WCT) about the real actions that you actually do in your center versus shit about cognitive processes and whatever.  When I looked it up on dictionary.com to make sure it’s what I wanted to talk about privilege with, I liked that it meant habitual action, things that people do every day, things that build up over time.  So I want to look at the things that built privilege over time, as well as how it built up in me over time, on top of calling stuff out.  So yeah.

-neil

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